There is a joke that broke college students survive by eating nothing but top ramen and their own tears. Santa Clara University (SCU) does a pretty good job with making sure that their students aren’t subject to this sad fate. SCU provides a wonderful (and mandatory!) meal point system, so that students are guaranteed food throughout the quarter. Students can use these points to purchase food at Benson Memorial Center at their discretion. First year students are able to purchase either the basic plan, which is 1549 points, or the preferred plan which is 1812 points. After that, there is the junior/senior plan which constitutes 1064 points or the apartment plan which is 228 points. However, along with deterring a diet of ramen and putting students in charge of their spending, the meal plan also creates a side effect: it encourages students to steal.
Throughout this year we have observed and dissected various aspects of cheating. Although not all aspects were necessarily labeled as cheating, or placed under the same category, there were still strong connections to cheating and/or similar behavior. Over the course of the year, some of the most interesting findings regarding cheating, or our version of cheating, were how foods were advertised to the public, USDA approved labels, and something more local and personally rooted, the existence of the Coachella Valley Church.
I have to be completely honest. During Fall quarter, I refused to open my Critical Thinking and Writing class’ Camino page in the presence of other human beings. I was too embarrassed for someone to see the phrase “FOOD PORN” slathered across my screen and proceed to fall into a deep contemplation over what the heck I was doing with my life. I remember sitting at my desk the night before classes started, staring at the course title in all caps and telling myself, “So this is college.”
Once I finished exploring the course page, I still had no clue what to expect from this class. I was met with words like “slant” and “trifecta,” our first assignment involved making food porn of our own, and I still couldn’t get over the picture of the man made entirely out of produce. I knew that I was in for something different – something unlike any other traditional English class I had ever taken.
After my two quarter sequence of CTW, I was left with an overall sense of frustration with a hint of optimism. I wasn’t frustrated because of how much reading we had to do or how many essays we had to write. In fact, I was left flipping pages back and forth, seeking more explanations for unanswered questions, and felt embarrassed after I submitting assignment well-over the page number suggestions. The kind of questions that we were faced with every class made me think in circles. I started to question everything. I questioned myself. My personal habits. My standards. By the end of Fall quarter, I quite honestly felt terrible about myself and wondered if I had any sense of morals or personal code of ethics. The facts were placed right in front of me, yet I chose to do nothing with the knowledge I was gaining.
Let me explain. Throughout our two quarters of study, we learned about everything from the horrors of factory farming to false advertising. We learned the ins and outs of the “system” and were presented with the cold, hard truth about what goes into our food and what goes on in our brains. Some of the most difficult realities I discovered are listed below:
- Liquefied waste from industrialized farms is distributed into “massive lagoons,” which can cover up to 120,000 square feet (Foer, 177). Not only do they contaminate our water, but they deteriorate our land, as they “contribute to soil erosion and depletion and require high inputs of fertilizer and fossil fuels” (Puskar-Pasewicz).
- Meat farming is “responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation” (Cowspiracy).
- Producing a four-ounce hamburger “requires 7 pounds of grain and forage, 53 gallons of drinking water and irrigating feed crops, 75 square feet for grazing and growing feed crops, and 1,036 BTUs for feed production and transport—enough to power a microwave for 18 minutes” (Melone).
- A compound found in red meat, known as carnitine, “has been found to cause atherosclerosis, the hardening or clogging of the arteries, according to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine”(Melone). The research conducted by the scientific journal confirmed that carnitine converts to a heart-damaging compound called trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) (Melone). Therefore, consuming large amounts of carnitine results in an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease (Melone).
All of the solutions seemed crystal clear. Adopt a plant-based diet. Produce less waste. Stop lying to ourselves. For God’s sake, stop thinking about yourself and make a couple of sacrifices! This message was continuously pounded into our brains in David Foster Wallace’s speech, “This is Water.” Wallace shows his audience that humans are essentially stuck in a default setting that fuels self-interested thoughts, preventing us from seeing that the universe doesn’t revolve around us. The natural default setting is “the automatic way that we experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when we’re operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that we are the center of the universe and that our immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities,” Wallace says. This mentality, however, is a choice. We choose to think only about ourselves. We choose to turn a blind eye to the injustice around us. We choose to overlook the struggles and hardships of our peers. We choose to do nothing. Because that’s the easy way out.
We’ve become accustomed to the idea that ignoring our problems will make life easier to live through. If we pretend the issue doesn’t exist, well, its doesn’t – right? Wrong. Humans have become so self-absorbed and blind to reality that we make the conscious effort to avoid tackling critical issues and seeking answers to messy questions. We’ve ultimately resorted to self-deception and we continuously justify inaction. I focused on these concepts quite a bit in one of my essay’s Spring quarter. I explored the dangers of non-monetary transactions and its ties to dishonesty:
This tendency to avoid dealing with the root of our problems is a theme in Ursula Le Guin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” which was one of the first pieces of literature we tackled in our Spring quarter of study. The boy in the basement, which society continuously ignores for the sake of maintaining the overall welfare of the town, reflects the human tendency to resist change. It’s so easy to turn away from problems with deeper implications because it means we don’t have to deal with the moral responsibility or guilt surrounding this issues. However, we can’t remain comfortable with walking away from problems like the citizens of Omelas do.
Lying is easy. It’s comfortable. It’s effective. Yet, when you continuously tell yourself that everything is as it should be, you deprive yourself of the right to seek positive alternatives to toxic situations. We lie to ourselves to avoid dealing with the fear accompanied by these lifestyle changes, and endure unnecessary pain as a result.
CTW has ultimately taught me that humans are rational: we are self-interested, will try to maximize our utility in every given situation, and will always make the transitive decision. Our free-will essentially goes down the drain when there’s a shortcut available. Our instincts takeover, and we take the easy way out. Every. Time. I’d like to think that “I’m different” or will “be the change I wish to see in the world,” but my personal experiment for my final essay in Fall quarter proved that I’m just like any other rational human being. I tried going vegetarian for a week, and I discovered that the real challenge was not the act of abstaining from meat, but mustering the confidence that it demands from you. The will to refuse animal-based protein and overcome the stigma of vegetarianism was the real challenge. I wasn’t expecting the social discomfort that accompanied the lifestyle. I failed – miserably – and couldn’t turn down another plate of my mom’s home cooked Persian food when I went home over Thanksgiving Break.
CTW has ultimately inspired me to take on David Foster Wallace’s challenge of snapping out of my natural default setting and abandoning my habit of telling myself that change is impossible. “Learn how to think and pay attention and you will know that you have other options” Wallace says.
And with that, I embark on the journey to challenge myself to avoid the easy way out. To stop justifying inaction and negligence. To accept change.
Arcimboldo, Giuseppe. Vertumnus. 1590, Skokloster Castle, Milan, Italy.
Cowspiracy. Dir. Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. Cowspiracy. N.p., 26 June 2014. Web.
Downing, Eve. “The Psychology of Spending.” MIT Spectrum, MIT, 1999,
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. Back Bay Books, 2010.
FoundationDesignNZ. “WATER.” YouTube, YouTube, 25 May 2013,
Melone, Linda. “10 Reasons To Stop Eating Red Meat.” Prevention, 19 Nov. 2015.
Puskar-Pasewicz, Margaret. “Agribusiness.” Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism,
Imagine a bright, sunny, and peaceful day. You are sitting aside a pleasant body of water, this may be a neighborhood pond, a smooth lake, or even a calm sea. Everything around you is still and exudes a an aura of calm. The bare surface that you are sitting is not rough nor smooth, not hot nor cold, but simply acts as a soft surface to only promote your sense of calm. There are no car horns, buzzing electric wires, or wailing winds but simply the sounds of nature. The only movement in this aura of tranquility is a small duck that is gently traveling across the body of water. A picturesque scene, right? Continue reading Aren’t We All Ducks in the Same Pond? // Alex Tay
About one year ago, I was filling out the college admission form for the second time. As with questions about our desired dorms, it included a form asking to rate our interest in a variety of topics from “not interested” to “very interested”. There seemed nothing unusual about it. Science and technology, Italian culture, California ideals… I seemed pretty neutral to most of these, choosing “may be interested”. But then “food” came up as a topic. “Well, I enjoy eating food, so of course I’ll be interested”, I thought to myself. So I selected “very interested”. What I did not know at that time was that decision would finalize my marriage contract of my college English class required of me during my first two quarters in college.
I know “marriage” might be a strong term for referring to a relationship not between another human being, but if you think about it, being in college is being in a well-planned and awaited relationship with our studies. We’ve all been preparing for college since we were at least high schoolers, building up our college resumes with Advanced Placement courses, extracurricular activities, and grades for that one moment of applying to several four year colleges. We’ve sacrificed hours of leisure for a better future. We heavily anticipate the months of March and April of our senior high school years to decided where we would be for four years.
And most importantly, your total college cost, tuition, textbook cost, and housing cost for a single quarter /semester or two may cost as much as an average marriage. My college’s tuition for a quarter is in the $20,500’s. Couples on average are believed to spend between “$19,323 and $32,205” on a wedding(“Cost…”). My mom keeps reminding me that a single class costs about $100, considering all the costs, so I MUST attend all my classes. I understand Mom~
I think what bothers me the most about college though is that although we pay the heavy costs of college, American culture doesn’t do good enough of a job to encourage students to really enjoy their education. A fair number of college students look forward to it mostly in a social aspect. General education courses are often skirted off as “annoying requirements” for a diploma that may land us a job. College is seem more as a chore than a blessed opportunity.
I really wanted to get as much as I could from a true college experience as I could, textbook knowledge and all. I know of others who aren’t as blessed to have the four year experience, one that who never will… And I didn’t want to let my parents’ savings go to waste.
And… I really wanted to go to the college I had been admitted to the previous year. I had graduated the year before, and accepted the application when I did in my April, but I became really sick during my last months of high school. I lost most of my remaining high school days and a month of college due to it. During that time, I was unable to mentally get myself to check my emails or do anything. My parents felt that maybe my applied college had given up my application since I failed to respond to their orientation emails. They thought that I would probably need to take the junior college route to get into a four-year college. But, I decided to take the slim, improbable chance of requesting for a gap year. It worked! I knew then that I had wanted to take on this education marriage.
During my gap year, I had taken community college classes and was forced to stay near home, in fear that my illness would come back (it did). There was no social life on my college campus. I couldn’t drive, so meeting with other people to hang out was hard. I often spent lots of time on my own, wondering what life would be like in a four year college. During that November, the Facebook group UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens (or UCBMEFT) came out and took my Facebook story by storm. Everyone was adding each other to this college page and the numerous other inspired college meme pages, even for colleges that they hadn’t applied to. I was able to see how my fellow classmates related to each other in their college mishaps and grades. I became really excited about attending a four year college, when I would truly relate to their experiences.
Memes became a big part of my college freshman fall quarter than I expected. I was able to meet the people of my current Christian club and finally connect with my roommate (after three weeks of pure unease). And, interestingly enough, my English class was meme-worthy itself. The class title, not kidding, was “Food Porn”. For the first few weeks, we had talked about, looked at, and even created our own food porn! We had recognized the visual importance of food advertising and how it affects us as a nation, even if most of the food appeal is a lie. Who knew that food could even be a topic for a writing class?!
After we had spent a fair time with food porn, our professor had us read Eating Animals and Consider the Lobster, both which examined the ethical issues behind eating many of our “ethical” meats. He had us participate in class discussions about the texts and our analysis of the well-written and creative writing styles of Jonathan Safran Foer and David Foster Wallace respectively. It made me want to become less of a meat eater when we had to watch videos displaying the harsh reality of animal treatment in factory farms. I can’t look at a turkey ever again with the same ease anymore.
The other meat that we had learned about was the realization that everything that we’ve been taught in high school English classes was wrong! We realized that our previous essays were reversing the outline of a basic argument. Reading the professor’s book Slant, we rethought our writing processes with a slant, the mix of a thesis and a so-what. We needed to open up our essays to more questions and underlying issues rather than narrow ourselves in!
The biggest meat of writing information was the professor’s motto. “Write essays that you want to read!”. It made me realize that the greatest meat of an essay was the enjoyment of the writer. We have been so used to writing forced, structured essays that we had resented even thinking about writing an essay. That really stuck with me the most throughout the months.
I incorporated all of these meat in an essay I wrote about offals, those animal intestines that you see in Chinese restaurants and the like. It was my personal instinctive counterargument to the vegan- vegetarian- push that the texts have encouraged. As much as I’d like to stop eating meat, I can’t due to my family owning many Chinese restaurants with meat. I argued that offals do have more value than Western society likes to think in terms of “morality”. It’ll be difficult to stop all people from eating meat, but the least we can do is not waste the meat we make from factory farming! Is it not more immoral to waste animal resources than to kill animals themselves?
In another essay, I was able to incorporate creativity with my love for math in an essay that doesn’t offer any excuse for food waste. I took all my experiences with the various school dining services and used each restaurant to stress key issues in American food waste, particularly those involved with composting, surplus food, and leftovers. We purposely avoid placing blame for wasted food on ourselves! In one of my sources, I read of a woman who developed her own strategy to “forget” the existence of surplus food so when this surplus is past its expiration date she can throw this food away “‘with an easier conscience’”(Evans 53). Scary thought, isn’t it? It hit me more closer to home than I’d thought it would.
Here’s a “writing experiment” that I started my essay off with, the universal symbol of a person throwing away food that was created by various words that I thought a food waster would say as an excuse. It was the most random idea I had thought of at the moment, but it worked out once I became determined to do it. I am quite proud of this one!
At the beginning of the Winter quarter, we moved on from factory farming and food corruption to deceit in all industries. Food companies are messed up in their own ways, true, but so are many other things! Our professor challenged us to work in groups to create a podcast based on any topic involving corruption. Initially I wasn’t gung-ho for the idea since I’ve never been the best in group settings. I also wasn’t too familiar with my group members. It took some time for us to work everything out, but we succeeded in creating a podcast highlighting the notable female bias in the Silicon Valley. Our group set-up forced us to get creative in presenting our podcast as one of “many” podcasts by a male student at our school asking informed females about gender-specific issues. We took phone and Skype interviews with female tech workers to add to our podcast. I had mislead myself into believing that everything wasn’t going to go well when quite the opposite was true.
We also do a fair share of misleading and lying ourselves, even without knowing it. Dan Ariely in his book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty discussed various ways in which we as people lie to ourselves. We use our creativity, personal belongings, and our conscious to lie to ourselves of who we are, for better and for worse. It was rather amusing listening to classmates who openly admitted the ways that people cheated in their high schools in a college class!
It just so happened that around that time I went into an identity crisis about being in a four year college. I was insecure as to whether I was capable of being in my intended major, or even being at the college at all. I felt my interest in my major was fading quickly, but I didn’t know what to change to. Was it right to put my family’s finances at a big risk when I was so unsure of whether my education mattered? College only really matters if you finish with a degree, isn’t it?
We were assigned to write our final essay of any given topic relating to our official class theme of “Food, Self, and Culture”. I felt that I had run out of ideas at that point. I had wanted to stick with food as much as I could since it was a food class. Most of my classmates had switched to other subjects of their interests that involved corruption or illegal means such as overuse of drugs in the Silicon tech industry and the competitive e-Sports. I felt uncertain of thesis statements that I had brought to class for peer review. I thought these statements over for days, and on a whim I decided to pick reality shows as a topic.
I had deeply thinking about the ending of a video game I had finished, Danganronpa V3. I won’t spoil the ending in here, trust me! I love the Danganronpa franchise, don’t get me wrong (the featured image includes the main protagonists of Danganronpa V3, Kaede and Shuichi) and I’d highly recommend it, but the end of the most recent game really made me consider the moral ramifications of teenage violence in similar franchises such as The Hunger Games movies and novels. Is it right for our society to popularize medias such as these into the mainstream? I discussed the video game as part of my analysis for the short story Those Who Walk Away from Omelas by the recently deceased Ursula Le Guin that questions whether the mistreatment of a select few people is worth the sacrifice for the happiness for most people. I emailed my professor to ask whether this idea could work, and he thought that it was an excellent essay idea! I was excited to hear that a series that has great meaning to me could be used as the basis for a college assignment, especially since the essay would be very specific to Danganronpa V3 and The Hunger Games movies.
The essay proved to be my most ambitious venture ever! It took me about three hours to find a proper narrative that related to my stance ( that these medias that display child-killing encourage young adults to consider their moralities in decision making towards authority/establishment), but once I found it I hit jackpot and was able to use the story to lead my essay. I had borrowed about four physical books detailing reports that defined ethics and morality (it’s far more greater than you can imagine!), reviewed a fair share of websites and databases, and relooked over summaries for the medias so I could describe all the occasions of defiance (murder or not) with enough background information for anyone to read the essay! The outline for my essay, consisting of nothing but bullet points, totaled to five pages. I thought that my essay would be ten pages at most, but in bringing the essay to completion on my rough draft, I realized that I needed a lot more time than expected… I once had to work on the essay for four hours straight to get it done within the generous extension.
The essay… turned out to be 17 pages long, double spaces, MLA format, even without the works cited pages…
The closest I’d been able to get a research paper to that length was nine pages. Heck, the page requirement for the essay itself was at least five pages!
It was an exhausting essay. Midway I was beginning to regret my idea since there was a lot that needed to be talked about.
I brought up all the crucial plot points that related to the three subcategories of ethics. I established that each character had their “just” motivations; there is no one “common sense” after all (Wallace 26)! The Hunger Games movies most notably encouraged young adults to create communities that dedicated themselves to relating words of the movies and the scarring violence to relieve daily stresses and discuss socioeconomic inequality. We seek to find definitive solutions to movies that deal with realistic issues such as inequality. Violence has always existed in “popular medias” such as Grimm fairy tales since they effectively keep children away from dangers through the use of fear. The world will always be filled with violence, so the best solution is to discuss use of it with young adults so they may make their own best judgements!
Meaning (The Most Important):
Looking back at it, the fulfillment of my improbable essay goal was an exhaustion worth taking! I was able to reflect on the basis of my own decision making best by writing that essay. The research proved that the world isn’t as straightforward as we’d like it to be. The “just” in any decision should be seen in the same light as anything “in-just”. They can switch at a matters notice depending on which ethic subcategories are weighted higher than others in society. One of the most important things you can do is encourage discussion of ideals and topics that you know that exist, whether you morally believe in them or not. All of our personal values are based on one another’s. We should be open for outside opinion enough as we are to our random ideas.
We tend to feel the most at ease with ourselves when we stick with a specific set of values over our lives. It’s only natural. We want to feel that what we are doing is right. Doesn’t your life only have meaning once you fulfill a life-long dream of yours? No, it doesn’t. I believe that life has meaning only when you take those improbable challenges and you daily face your “opposition”. I wouldn’t be able to write an essay, let alone this blog post, so long if I hadn’t taken those few minutes writing an email to my professor about an idea that popped up in my head. I wouldn’t have been able to challenge my creative limits nor even be attending a four year college had I acted on my “logic” over my intuition. Writing an essay that you would want to read becomes no different than living your life as if you were to want your life to be like someone else’s.
A required English class such as the one I had for two quarters of my freshman year of college doesn’t serve primarily for me to learn about English. It serves to push me and other adults into finding our own meaning by pushing us out of our comfort zones and helping us distinguish our intuitions from “logics” that may “mislead” us. It was about finding the “meat” in my lives and the “morality” of my decisions. Being in a group setting instilled a shared discomfort that became an unspoken mean of relating with peers, just as “memes” serve to bring college students together. The “marriage” of college is costly in many regards, but it “means” so much to me. I can not be any more grateful than I am now!
“Shuichi Saihara and Kaede Akamatsu from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.” https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/858991328899557263/
“How much does the average wedding cost?” MSASea. http://www.msa-sea.org/43506-average-cost-of-weddin-venue/
“Average Wedding Cost in the United States Is $25,764.” Cost of Wedding, The Wedding Report.Inc, http://www.costofwedding.com/.
Harlot777. “Food Porn.” Imgur. 3 March 2015. https://imgur.com/gallery/pVczv6F
“Meat Chickens 2.” Safe https://safe.org.nz/issue/factory-farming-meat-chickens
Evans, David. Food Waste: Home Consumption, Material Culture and Everyday Life.
“District 8 Battle 2.” Wired. https://www.wired.com/2014/11/mockingjay-violence-teens/
“Big Meaning.” Christopher Curtis Sensei. http://curtissensei.com/?p=820
I never was really interested in the food that I ate, especially since I wasn’t too picky and ate whatever my mom fed me. All that changed once I entered college and enrolled in a Critical Reading and Writing class.
I first thought, “Great, another English class where I learn pointless rules of how to structure my essays and reading boring essays.” However, this Critical Reading and Writing class completely surpassed my expectations. For the first quarter, we focused entirely upon the topic of “Food” reading books such as Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. This completely changed my perspective upon food that I was putting in my body.
An essay I wrote, “Fever for Health” delved into the eating habits of college students. Having always heard about the so-called “obesity epidemic”, it all seemed far-fetched to me, especially seeing the lack of “obese” students. However, it was eye-opening upon learning that 95% of college students eat below the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables (Spain). Furthermore, although a “mere” 4.9% of college students were obese, 21.6% of them were deemed overweight (Huang). I was shocked. Although it wasn’t visible seeing this, I realized the food we consume has much more of an impact then we believe.
Not only do the food we consume affect our bodies internally and externally, there are consequences affecting beyond us. From Foer, I discovered the tragedy of the meat industry, with terrible conditions and treatment of animals that are bred solely for our consumption (Foer).
Now, this caused me to look internally within myself. I had always eaten food that was served for me without much thought besides, “It’s soccer season, so I should lay off of eating junk food.” Never I had given much thought like, “Where is this meat I’m eating come from and how was it produced?” Now, although I haven’t been converted to veganism or vegetarianism, I know think much critically on the food and its quality. This Critical Reading and Writing class actually turned out to truly educate me as I should’ve been previously.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. Little, Brown & Company, 2013.
Huang, Terry T.K., et al. “Assessing Overweight, Obesity, Diet, and Physical Activity in College Students.” Taylor & Francis Online, Journal of American College Health, 24 Mar. 2010, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07448480309595728.
Spain, Erin. “Northwestern Now.” College Kids Need to Change Unhealthy Ways, news.northwestern.edu/stories/2014/05/college-kids-need-to-change-unhealthy-ways.
It’s weirdly paradoxical to be in a place where you are aware that you are unaware, yet that is where this class left me. If there’s one common theme that seemed to run through everything we studied as a class and everything I researched on my own, it’s the idea that we are less aware and understand less than we often realize.
During first quarter, we read the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. As someone who had fairly recently become a vegetarian, I was interested to read the book, but also expected that most of it would cover what I already knew. I was wrong. I found much of this book surprising. To me, the most shocking part of Foer’s book was his description of how the animal agriculture industry handles animal waste and how this affects people.
In total, all farmed animals in the U.S. produce 87,000 pounds of waste per second. This 130 times what the human population produces. There is no real regulation on all this animal waste. Most often, it is put into football field-sized pools. It often runs off into water supplies and toxins such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide inevitably evaporate into the air. Children raised near factory farms are twice as likely to develop asthma, while children raised onÃ‚Â a typical hog factory farm have an over fifty percent chance of developing asthma. People living near factory farms also have problems with persistent nosebleeds, earaches, chronic diarrhea, and burning in their lungs (Foer 174-176).
Before reading this book, I was aware (to some extent) that factory farming harmed animals and harmed our environment. What I hadn’t considered was how factory farming harms people.
For one of my essays, I explored how our culture tends to respond to the problem of hunger in the U.S. Often, people see food drives as an easy and effective way of responding to the issue. In reality, we are unaware of how inefficient food drives really are at addressing the problem of hunger. While the average person may be able to take a dollar to the store and buy a can of green beans, food banks are able to use $1 to purchase about four meals (often including fresh produce) because of discounted rates they have access to on food (Schilling). We are unaware of how the problem of hunger can best be solved through monetary donations because we want to feel good about ourselves when we donate a few cans.Â
In another essay, I argued that the clothing industry’s sizing system (or lack thereof) harms our self-esteem. Women’s clothing brands often label clothes so that women will fit into smaller than expected sizes. This sets women up to become frustrated, confused and disappointed. WhileÂ waists of size 8 jeans often vary by three or more inches (Dockterman), women tend to be unaware of this and may tend to blame their own bodies when they can’t find clothes that fit. In addition, studies have shown that women inevitably have to try on a size larger than expected, the negative effect is greater than the positive effect in self-esteem experienced when trying on a size smaller than expected (Aydinoglu; Hoegg).
Perhaps the thing that best drives this point home from this class is something that we looked at within the first week or so: This is Water.
David Foster Wallace’s speech makes an important and challenging point that we are often unaware of our own attitudes and biases. Without realizing it, we go through life with a self-centric view, unaware of the perspectives of those around us. To be aware of other’s perspectives, we must do the difficult work of continually paying attention.
Overall, this class made me aware of a few situations and truths that I was not before. I hope that I continue to grow in awareness, especially in awareness of the perspectives of those around me.
I also think that sometimes we know the truth, but we refuse to acknowledge it for whatever reason. Like Foer says, “It’s possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep” (Foer 102). Is there any point to awareness if it doesn’t lead to some kind of change?
Aydinoglu, Nilfer Z. and Aradhna Krishna. “Imagining Thin: Why Vanity Sizing Works.” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science), vol. 22, no. 4, Oct. 2012, pp. 565-572. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2011.12.001.
Bodley, Riley. “In this photo are two of my favorite pairs of jeans…” Facebook, 9 May 2017, http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1141910845955788&set=a.122027494610800.36926.100004106511339&type=3&theater.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. Little, Brown & Company, 2013.
Dockterman, Eliana. “One Size Fits None.” Time, vol. 188, no. 10/11, 12 Sept. 2016, pp. 78-84. EBSCOhost, login.libproxy.scu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=117821613&site=eds-live.
Hoegg, JoAndrea, et al. “The Flip Side of Vanity Sizing: How Consumers Respond to and Compensate for Larger Than Expected Clothing Sizes.” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science), vol. 24, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 70-78. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2013.07.003.
Schilling, Erin. “Georgia United Hosts Annual February Food Drive.” The Red & Black [Athens], 7 Feb. 2018, http://www.redandblack.com/athensnews/georgia-united-hosts-annual-february-food-drive/article_34f61954-0bbd-11e8-9991-a790ef8f4fcd.html. Accessed 21 Feb. 2018.
“This Is Water” Full Version-David Foster Wallace Commencement Speech. YouTube, 19 May 2013, youtu.be/8CrOL-ydFMI?t=20m30s.